Wednesday afternoon, Bryce Harper became the fourth player in Nationals history to hit three home runs in a game. The history of these Washington Nationals is a relatively short one — 10 years this year, sort of, if you hadn’t heard — and has not included a revolving door of power-hitting stars. You could probably have guessed the other three players in about four guesses: 40-40 man Alfonso Soriano, that beast of booming blasts Adam Dunn, and that Ryan Zimmerman guy, who always seems to pop up in sentences that include an offensive statistic and the phrase “…in Nationals history.”
Soriano did it first, the first 21st century National to hit three home runs in nine innings, first D.C. ballplayer to do it since the Senators days in 1969. He did it on April 21, 2006, when Harper was 13 years old.
Soriano did not feature prominently on the front page that day. He was bumped from prime position by Caron Butler, in a cadet blue and gold Wizards jersey, readying for a playoff run.
Other stories in the sports pages that day include Jim Bowden’s alleged domestic dispute with his fiancee, the Redskins looking for linebackers in the 2006 NFL draft (they would go on to draft Miami product Rocky McIntosh with their first pick that year), and Brandon Lloyd signing a long-term deal. The Post broke down the Cleveland Cavaliers, who the Wizards would play in the first round — LeBron James’s first career playoff series.
Then of course, there were the Nationals, who beat the Braves, 7-3, behind Soriano’s homers and seven innings from John Patterson. Outside of those home runs, Washington’s rookie third baseman made the play of the day in that game, a diving catch deep behind third that saved a run.
“I don’t have enough quotes to describe that catch,” then-Manager Frank Robinson said. “I don’t think I ever saw (Brooks) Robinson make that play.”
That rookie third baseman is now making plays like that at first base. Seven years later, he would become the third Nationals player to hit three home runs in a game. He went 1 for 4 as Harper became the fourth.